Posted in History

Goodwood Revival 2015

  • My e-photo album of Goodwood Revival 2015 which will give you a taste of what to expect at this world-class nostalgia event. Uploaded to You Tube 23.9.15.

Exciting news, tickets for Goodwood Revival 2016 are now on sale! Keep an eye on Twitter (@goodwoodrevival) for further announcements. Tickets sell-out VERY quickly, so get in early to avoid disappointment.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

If you have never been to or heard of Goodwood Revival, let me explain. It is a retro-themed annual event that takes place over three days during mid-September (Friday to Sunday) at the Goodwood Estate in Chichester, West Sussex. In 2016, Goodwood Revival will happen from Friday 9th until Sunday 11th September, inclusive (these dates to be confirmed by 31st December, 2015).

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

What can you expect to see at Goodwood Revival? The event is a heady mix of historic planes, classic cars and motorbikes, heritage motor racing, retro fashions, food, music, period theatre and much, much more besides. A majority of exhibits and vehicles are time-located between World War Two and late 1960s with a few nods to modernity here and there. Goodwood Revival is one of the best annual celebrations of British nostalgia and vintage lifestyle in the world. Over 150,000 visitors attended this year, a figure which I think speaks for itself!

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
A perfect example of Goodwood Revival retro styling coupled with a nod to modernity. ©Come Step Back In Time
A perfect example of Goodwood Revival – vintage style with touches of modernity. ©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
Driver Mark Bevington (St. Mary's Trophy) with his 1965 Isuzu Bellett.
Driver Mark Bevington (St. Mary’s Trophy) with his 1965 Isuzu Bellett.

Nearly every attendee (even trackside car mechanics) dress in period appropriate clothing. A lot of thought and effort goes into outfit selection, ensembles are not just pulled together from a last-minute rummage in grandma’s attic (although don’t dismiss this idea, you may come across a fantastic vintage find!). Oh no, Goodwood Revival devotees spend months and months putting together the perfect look. Even the gentlemen ensure that they are not outshone by their female counterparts.

A rather dapper gentleman from The Chap Magazine relaxing after a long day at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
A rather dapper gentleman from The Chap Magazine relaxing after a long day at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Wearing retro togs is not a pre-requisite dress-code but you will feel rather out of place if you don’t make some effort in this regard (for the ladies – scarf, hat, shoes, jacket, handbag etc.). If full retro attire is not your thing then modern styling is absolutely fine too as long as it is smart. Gentlemen should really wear trousers, shirt, tie and ladies a dress/suit. If you want to gain access to The Paddock, then smart dress is essential.

Me at Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
Me at Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time

I confess, my soft-spot for Goodwood Revival  began in 1998 when I attended the very first meeting as a guest of Goodwood Estate. I was a post-graduate student at the time with a friend working in the Estate’s motor racing department. I gave hair and make-up demonstrations to Goodwood staff in readiness for the inaugural Revival. I have always had a keen interest in 20th Century fashion and make-up, so was delighted to share my knowledge with the Goodwood team.

  • In this short film by That’s Solent TV, I talk about my involvement in the 1998 Goodwood Revival meeting. Uploaded to You Tube 11.9.2015.
The Paddock in 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
The Paddock in 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time

The 1998 Revival commemorated the first motor racing event held at Goodwood’s Racing Circuit on 18th September, 1948. The Earl of March and Kinrara, who is the current owner of Goodwood Estate and heir-apparent of the 10th Duke of Richmond (1929- ), wanted to commemorate this first meeting. Motor race meetings continued at Goodwood until the circuit closed in 1966.

Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
The Press Centre at Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
The Press Centre at Goodwood Revival 1998. ©Come Step Back In Time
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Me in the Press Centre at Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
Video Journalist, Shan Robins and cameraman, Steve Launay, filming in the Press Centre for That's Solent TV. ©Come Step Back In Time
Video Journalist, Shan Robins and cameraman, Steve Launay, filming in the Press Centre for That’s Solent TV. ©Come Step Back In Time

In 2015, the 12,000 acre Goodwood Estate now comprises of a Racecourse, Motor Racing Circuit, a 4,000 acre organic farm, two 18 hole golf courses, an Aerodrome and Flying School and a 91 bedroom hotel.

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Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

The original 1948 Motor Racing Circuit was formed from the perimeter of wartime fighter station RAF Westhampnett, which was built on land donated from the Goodwood Estate towards the war effort. Westhampnett shouldered the burden of air operations in the area when the Luftwaffe heavily bombed its sector station, RAF Tangmere, during the Battle of Britain (10 July – 31 October 1940) in World War Two.DSCF6482

In the summer of 1940, Shell (Goodwood Revival 2015’s Official Fuel and Lubricants sponsor) supported the heroic pilots of RAF Fighter Command with supplies of its new 100-octane aviation fuel, which offered a significant leap in performance and reached the front-line units, such as those based at Goodwood (RAF Westhampnett) between the fall of mainland Europe and the defence of Britain.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Post-war, the airfield was restored to the Estate and its perimeter road repurposed as a new home for the British Automobile Racing Club, after the permanent closure of the world’s first motor racing circuit at Brooklands in Surrey.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Goodwood Revival 2015 paid tribute to those who fought in the Battle of Britain 75 years ago. The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight that took place at this year’s event, consisted of a Lancaster, flanked by a Supermarine Spitfire and a Hawker Hurricane, such a spectacular and rare sight. The Goodwood Aerodrome is always a focal point of the Revival, some of the most celebrated historic aircraft in the world gather for the Freddie March Spirit of Aviation. This year, there were 40 aircraft from the period of the Battle of Britain including the world’s only flying Bristol Blenheim.

Me reporting on The Battle of Britain anniversary at Goodwood Revival for Solent TV. ©Come Step Back In Time
Me reporting on The Battle of Britain anniversary at Goodwood Revival for Solent TV. ©Come Step Back In Time

  • Goodwood Revival Commemorates 75th Anniversary Of The Battle Of Britain 15.9.2015 That’s Solent TV.
Me with Peter Brock. ©Come Step Back In Time
Me with Peter Brock. ©Come Step Back In Time

I am no expert on the history of motor racing but do have a penchant for vintage cars, particularly from America. One of the highlights for me this year was meeting Peter Brock (1936- ). Brock is an American car designer best known for his work on the Shelby Dayton Cobra Coupé and Corvette Sting Ray. He worked at Shelby American until the end of the 1965 season on the Shelby American brand, creating the logos, merchandise, ads, and car liveries.

After winning at Le Mans in 1959 in an Aston Martin DBR1, Carroll Shelby [1923-2012] decided that he wanted to return with his own car to take the fight to the Ferrari GTs. The open-cockpit Cobras were endowed with blistering acceleration, but were at a huge aerodynamic disadvantage on the three-mile Mulsanne Straight. Topping out at 160 mph, they were giving away around 30mph to the more slippery Ferraris.

Shelby realised dramatic changes had to be made, so tasked his head of special projects, Peter Brock, with finding a solution. The result was a coupé body featuring a rounded nose, steeply raked windscreen ad cut-off ‘Kamm tail’. The unconventional design worked well and during testing the car went 20mph faster than any Cobra had before.

(Goodwood Revival Race Programme, 2015, p.14)

At Goodwood Revival 2015, Daytona Coupes were displayed alongside 6 Cobra Roadsters, recreating the pits of Sebring in 1965. These 6 Cobras are the only examples ever produced.

Driver N. Minassian in a 1965 Shelby Cobra Dayton Coupé. Peter Brock Looks on. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time
Driver N. Minassian in a 1965 Shelby Cobra Dayton Coupé. Peter Brock Looks on. Goodwood Revival 2015. ©Come Step Back In Time

This year’s Goodwood Revival had a strong emphasis on retro food (as you can imagine, this pleased me no end!). The 60th anniversary of the fish finger was marked with an authentic trawler situated near to the main entrance.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

In actual fact the very first reference to a ‘fish finger’ appeared in a British magazine in 1900. An American scientist, Clarence Birdseye (1886-1956), who began his career as a taxidermist, is credited with bringing the humble fish finger to the British tea-table in 1955.

Birdseye began his journey to becoming the founder of the modern freezer industry whilst on a fishing trip to Newfoundland between 1912 and 1915. He noticed the Inuits left their freshly caught fish and caribou meat out in the open air, where the intense cold froze it solid, very quickly. He spent several years experimenting with the freezing process and in 1925, produced his first commercially frozen food. In 1930, his first distribution centre opened at Springfield, Massachusetts.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

After World War Two, Britain had an abundance of herrings. Birdseye recognised the potential of this fish surplus in terms of food retail and decided to push forward with his idea for frozen fish fingers. Conducting market research in Southampton and South Wales, Birdseye gave the public a chance to try either ‘Herring Savouries’ or ‘Cod Sticks’. Much to Birdseye’s surprise, the public preferred Cod Sticks. In Britain, 1955, his company Birds Eye, finally launched their famous fish finger at a price of 1 shilling 8d. The fish finger was developed in the company’s old factory in Great Yarmouth by Mr H. A. J. Scott.

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Another heritage brand represented on The Revival High Street at Goodwood this year was Bendicks. Bendicks have been manufacturing after dinner mints since 1931, their shop at the Revival was based upon the firm’s original 1930s Mayfair shop. Founders of Bendicks, Mr Oscar Benson and Colonel ‘Bertie’ Dickson, produced their first ever chocolate mint in 1930. Benson and Dickson acquired a small confectionery business at the unassuming address of 184 Church Street, in Kensington, London.

Showcasing the Elizabethan Dark Chocolate Mints on the Revival High Street. ©Come Step Back In Time
Showcasing the Elizabethan Dark Chocolate Mints on the Revival High Street. ©Come Step Back In Time

This year’s Revival took place 2 days after the anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II (1926- ) becoming the longest-serving monarch, having reigned longer than her great-great Grandmother Queen Victoria (1819-1901) who reigned for 23,226 days. In recognition of this extraordinary milestone, Bendicks launched a limited edition box of Elizabethan Dark Chocolate Mints in celebration of HM Queen Elizabeth II. Bendicks were awarded a Royal Warrant by Her Majesty The Queen in 1962.

1960s Tesco supermarket on the Revival High Street. ©Come Step Back In Time
1960s Tesco supermarket on the Revival High Street. ©Come Step Back In Time

Tesco, one of the major sponsors of Goodwood Revival, recreated a mid 1960’s store stocked with authentic products on The Revival High Street. This is one of the event’s most popular exhibits, the interior of the supermarket is truly spectacular to behold. Shelves stacked high with period accurate products, packaging had been recreated with painstaking attention to detail. If Tesco return to Goodwood Revival in 2016, I urge you to visit this exhibit.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

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Tesco has been a retail icon on the British high street since 1919, when Jack Cohen (1898-1979) started selling surplus groceries from a stall in the East End of London. The Tesco brand first appeared 5 years later in 1924 when he bought a ship of tea from a Mr T.E. Stockwell. The initials and letters were combined to form Tes-co and in 1929 Mr Cohen opened the flagship Tesco store in Burnt Oak, North London.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

In the 1960s, self-service supermarkets gradually became a common sight on many high streets in Britain. This new style of supermarket allowed the customer to push a trolley or carry a wire basket around an open-plan food emporium and choose products for themselves. The latter task having previously been carried-out by a shop assistant who would fulfil your order, collate and package up the items for you.

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Supermarkets carried a much wider range of stock than the humble village store and shoppers now enjoyed a more emancipated shopping experience. In 1968, Tesco opened its first ‘superstore’ in Crawley, West Sussex. If the Tesco exhibit returns to Goodwood Revival in 2016, do take the time to visit, it won’t disappoint. It is great fun identifying products that we can still see on our supermarket shelves in 2015!

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The incredible, revolving, retro Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
The incredible, revolving, retro Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
The 1940s kitchen from Kenwood's Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
The 1940s kitchen from Kenwood’s Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time

The Kenwood Theatre at Goodwood Revival was another personal favourite and a must-see for fans of retro food and historic kitchenalia. My short film, at the start of this article, contains many images of The Kenwood Theatre including action shots of well-known cookery demonstrators, Brendan Lynch, Miranda Gore-Browne and burlesque baker, Charlotte White.

Burlesque baker, Charlotte White, demonstrating in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Burlesque baker, Charlotte White, demonstrating in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Great British Bake-Off finalist, Miranda Gore Browne demonstrating cake-making in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Great British Bake-Off finalist, Miranda Gore Browne demonstrating cake-making in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Great British Bake-Off contestant, Brendan Lynch demonstrating in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Great British Bake-Off contestant, Brendan Lynch demonstrating in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time

Kenneth Maynard Wood (1916-1997) first became interested in food mixers after World War Two when he brought a Sunbeam mixer, stripped it down and redesigned it. The first kitchen product Ken Wood retailed on the British market was actually the ‘Turn Over Toaster’ (model A100), manufactured in 1947 from his company based in Woking. This style of toaster had been popular since the 1920s.

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Kenwood Kitchen Icons Through The Ages mini-exhibition in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
Kenwood Kitchen Icons Through The Ages mini-exhibition in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
A700 Kenwood Chef (1950-1957) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
A700 Kenwood Chef (1950-1957) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time

Kenwood food mixers have been kitchen icons since 1950 when the company launched model A700, Kenwood Chef, at the Ideal Home Exhibition with the promise that it was ‘The world’s most versatile kitchen machine!’. The A700 was so popular that when Harrods stocked it, the mixer sold-out within a week and shot straight to the top of every bride’s wedding wish list. By 1956, Kenwood’s turnover reached £1.5 million and the company employed 400 staff.

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A305 Kenwood Minor Hand Mixer (1960s) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
A305 Kenwood Minor Hand Mixer (1960s) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time

In 1962, Kenwood moved its manufactory to Havant, Hampshire (and are still there today). In the 1960s, Kenwood ran into difficulties, in part due to a manufacturing problem with one of its refrigeration products. There followed a hostile takeover by Thorn Electrical Group in 1968 which resulted in Ken Wood being ousted out of his own company.

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A901 Kenwood Chef (1980s) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time
A901 Kenwood Chef (1980s) on display in The Kenwood Kitchen Theatre. ©Come Step Back In Time

Ken Wood then became Managing Director of Dawson-Keith Holdings where he remained until 1981. Following the Thorn takeover, Ken Wood continued to live near Havant and created a golf course there, he also founded the Forest Mere Health Farm, Liphook, Hampshire.

 

  • TV documentary from 1981 on the history of Kenwood Food Mixers. Includes interviews with the founder Kenneth Wood and the industrial designer Kenneth Grange. Uploaded to John Wood’s You Tube Channel 23.10.2015. (John is Kenneth Wood’s step son. You can follow John on Twitter @uptone – he often posts Kenwood related Tweets including images and archive footage of his late step father. John also blogs at http://uptone.blogspot.co.uk/ ).
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

Retro fashionistas are never disappointed at Goodwood Revival. The fashion focus at this year’s event was the 50th anniversary since ‘Youthquake’ and emergence of the miniskirt in 1965.

The freedom of a mini skirt! It feels so modern, so pop, so now. This is fashion shaking off the shackles of our parents and instead finding something that the young want to wear. It’s all thanks to Mary Quant, our home-grown fashion designer currently setting the agenda everywhere. Quant is the patron saint of the young, the hip and the cool, and her King’s Road shop Bazaar is the mecca for all the faces in London town.
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
And we have mini icons for inspiration, such as Jean Shrimpton, model and muse of photographer of David Bailey. She caused a sensation at this year’s Melbourne Cup in Australia, when she turned up wearing a white dress cut four inches above the knees, made by Colin Rolfe; and without the hat, gloves and stockings usually required at such events.
(‘Mini Skirts’ by Lauren Cochrane, Goodwood Revival 2015 official programme)
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time

On the Richmond Lawn at Goodwood Revival, there was a special celebration of the mini skirt and a ‘live’ billboard of models in the very latest fashions. One of the outfits I wore during the weekend, was a 1960s inspired dress with ‘Mod’ detailing teamed with a beehive style updo.

©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
Taking a quick, 1960s style, selfie. ©Come Step Back In Time
Taking a quick, 1960s style, selfie. ©Come Step Back In Time
There is something for everyone at Goodwood Revival, young and old. Whether you are a vintage lifestyle enthusiast, petrolhead, living history or aviation fanatic you will not fail to enjoy your day-out (or weekend) at Goodwood. But do hurry, tickets sell-out incredibly quickly. You cannot purchase tickets on the gate, all tickets must be brought in advance.
  • What can you expect to see at Goodwood Revival 2016? An exciting ‘teaser film’ made by Goodwood Road & Racing. Uploaded to You Tube 3.11.15.
  • To book tickets for Goodwood Revival 2016, CLICK HERE.
  • Keep an eye on Twitter (@goodwoodrevival) for all the latest event news.
  • Check-out my Pinterest board of Goodwood Revival 2015, showcasing some of my favourite photographs taken during the weekend. You may find inspiration on there for creating your outfit for 2016’s event. CLICK HERE.
  • For more tips and hints on how to ‘Get The Goodwood Look’, CLICK HERE.
  • Every year at Goodwood Revival there is a ‘Best Dressed’ competition. Take a look at 2015’s runners and riders for inspiration when creating your own ‘Goodwood look’. CLICK HERE.
L-R = Honey B'Zarre, Miss Scarlett Luxe and Bryce Hunt for Vintage Hair Lounge.
L-R = Honey B’Zarre, Miss Scarlett Luxe and Bryce Hunt for Vintage Hair Lounge.
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
©Come Step Back In Time
Posted in Fashion History, Film, Historical Hair and Make-up, Vintage

Vintage Fashion Movie Icons – Part 2 – Bonnie and Clyde by Carolyn Hair

Welcoming back guest blogger Carolyn Hair with Part 2 of her Vintage Fashion Movie Icons series.  This time she advises on how to recreate Faye Dunaway’s fashion look from the film Bonnie and Clyde (1967).

FAYE DUNAWAY IN BONNIE AND CLYDE – HOW TO GET THE LOOK

By Carolyn Hair  

Bonnie and Clyde DVD cover from 1967 film. Warren Beatty (Clyde) and Faye Dunaway (Bonnie)

Bonnie’s vintage fashion looks to steal

The best compliment I ever had was being told that I look like Faye Dunaway playing outlaw Bonnie Parker. Well, I was wearing a copycat tan beret over a blonde bob with a dash of black eyeliner at the time. Now I’m no Faye Dunaway but I’ll take it anyway as this glamorised character, with her Depression era style mixed with Left Bank chic, is one of my vintage fashion movie icons.

The Bonnie look which is recreated again and again in fashion spreads, sees its most recent incarnation in pop-star, Rihanna’s ‘Bonnie and Clyde’ shoot in UK Vogue. It’s easy to recreate bits of the look to suit your figure without going all outlaw.

Beret: School uniforms and spies aside, I feel berets have moved beyond cliché. If you dare to join me, there are lots to choose from the high street to vintage.

Fitted jumper or cardigan: Along with berets, cardigans got a huge sales boost from this movie. Whilst they can seem twee at first glance, they never really go out of style whatever your shape. Play with colour, style and neckline to suit.  Check out Movie Knits for a Bonnie-inspired jumper: Movie Knits.

Midi-skirt:  All the rage on the catwalk, they can be difficult to wear if you are shorter (like me) but add some heels and it’s a surprisingly flattering look.

Mary-janes: How can you go wrong? High-heeled brogues could be a bang-on-trend alternative.

Silk scarf: Ubiquitous in vintage shops. Rummage to find one to suit.

Slips: The no-underwear part of Faye Dunaway’s look is perhaps not for everyone but it’s easy to pick-up vintage slips which could be worn with midi-skirts or even as a dress under chunky knitwear.

Tea-dress: This versatile dress is very big at the moment, so you can pick up a high street reproduction or an original in girly floral print or more muted tones.

Jewellery: Go low-key! I don’t advise the full-on excess of the Goldiggers of 1933 (1933) whom Bonnie impersonates in the mirror using her own necklace as a prop.

Here’s Kate Moss wearing an updated version:

http://mamasarollingstone.com/hot-buy-ben-amun-long-coin-necklace/

and check out this pretty necklace which recycles rifle range remnants:

http://ecosalon.com/lustables-bullet-casing-petal-necklace/

Bags: For bank-robber chic, what about the Gladstone bag or variations on this 1930s classic? Or, although it may not seem practical at first, a large clutch could be good to grab and go.

Trench:  Bonnie wears a checked suit in the movie with a high-waisted belt, which can be updated to the fashion staple that is the trench. It never tires and suits all shapes and budgets. For the more patient amongst you, hunt classic styles and brands in charity and vintage stores.

Just as this movie played with period to create a timeless classic, the best way to wear vintage is to mix styles and period, and new and old.  So have fun with the look – just add attitude!

Try out Faye Dunaway’s outlaw style and let us know how you get on.

About Guest Blogger – Carolyn Hair

  • Carolyn works as an online marketing officer for an environmental charity based in Bristol, UK.
  • She blogs at Culture Darling (www.culturedarling.com) where she writes about vintage and eco fashion, film, photos, books and any other cultural trips that take her fancy.
  • Talk fashion and film with her on Twitter @carolynhair
Posted in Fashion History, Film, Vintage

Vintage Fashion Movie Icons – Part 1 – Bonnie and Clyde by Carolyn Hair

I am delighted to welcome my first, fantastic guest blogger, Carolyn Hair. Carolyn works as an online marketing officer for an environmental charity based in Bristol, UK.

Carolyn blogs at Culture Darling (www.culturedarling.com) where she writes about vintage and eco fashion, film, photos, books and any other cultural trips that take her fancy.

Talk fashion and film with her on Twitter @carolynhair

VINTAGE FASHION MOVIE ICONS – PART 1 – BONNIE & CLYDE

By Carolyn Hair

Bonnie and Clyde DVD cover from 1967 film. Warren Beatty (Clyde) and Faye Dunaway (Bonnie)

Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker in Bonnie and Clyde (1967)

What makes Faye Dunaway’s style so memorable in the 1960s movie Bonnie and Clyde? Its place in fashion history is won as it teaches about vintage style itself – how to manage that tricky balance of distilling the essence of period whilst updating with elements of the contemporary. Bonnie’s look reworks 1930s Depression era fashions with 1960s French New Wave chic.

Bonnie to ‘Brigitte’ Parker

To understand the power of the look, let’s go to France and Brigitte Bardot’s recreation of Faye Dunaway’s Bonnie Parker (rather than the ‘real’ Bonnie Parker) in Serge Gainsbourg’s song about the duo. Whilst the US film looked to French New Wave or Nouvelle Vague cinema (Truffaut and Godard were prospective directors), the costume design combined rustic 1930s with 1960s French style. So just as fashion recycles we go full circle; from the true-life story with its roots in American folk history to the 1960s US cinematic version influenced by the French New Wave (which itself played homage to the 1930s Hollywood gangster film) and finally inspiring French pop and movie stars.

Creator of the movie’s style – Theadora van Runkle

Revisiting this vintage movie look is timely with the death late last year of its creator – the self-taught designer and Oscar nominee, Theadora Van Runkle.  Bored of working as a commercial artist, a chance meeting with Oscar-winning costume designer, Dorothy Jeakins, and a subsequent job offer couldn’t have come at better time. Although Jeakins dismissed her after only a month (Theadora later said it was jealousy) she suggested Van Runkle for the Bonnie and Clyde post.

Warren Beatty, who produced the film and played Clyde, rejected her first designs as too faithful to the 1930s, whilst Faye Dunaway felt that her look was rather low-key.  According to Van Runkle, “Faye thought I didn’t care how she looked. Faye thought I was trying to make her ugly.” (8th November 2011, The New York Times)  How wrong Dunaway would turn out to be and the pair formed a firm, fashion friendship with Van Runkle designing for the actress in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) and her 1968 Oscar appearance for Bonnie and Clyde.

Playing with period

The Bonnie Parker style works because it plays with period. Van Runkle uses the 1930s as a foundation and adds European 1960s chic resulting in timeless appeal. Attention to period detail through costume and set design in cinema often adds to its veracity bringing the world alive for us. However in the case of Bonnie and Clyde, just as the film plays with their ‘true’ story – reworking it for a 1960s audience – the fashion does the same.

So how did the design play with the times? The first outfit Dunaway wears shows 1930s rustic style ─ a long, figure-hugging, white button-up tea dress, nipped at the waist with ties. In the 1920s women’s greater freedoms were expressed through fashion: shorter skirts, casting off the corset and the looser, drop-waisted flapper dress. The 1930s brought a return to a more feminine shape in clothes with a slimmer, fitted look though the bias cut.

The longer length skirts of the 1930s contrasted sharply with 1960s film-goers’ micro-minis. Van Runkle played against the hemline index. It seems that as our purse-strings tighten, skirt lengths get longer, whilst when our economic confidence grows, so does our desire to show more leg. After the Wall Street crash of 1929, it’s said that skirt lengths increased almost overnight. Thrift was a necessity and fashion invention came up with adding extra fabric to update the shorter skirts of the 1920s. Jump to the economic boom of the 1960s and of course we get the era’s defining style – the mini. The recent revival of the midi skirt, a key part of the Bonnie look, perhaps nods to the current world financial crisis.

The essence is Depression era vintage but Dunaway’s outfits would look just as fitting on a young student on the Left Bank. After Bonnie and Clyde, 1930s styles met a new audience with cardigans and berets noticing a post-movie boost. A beret was worn by the real Bonnie Parker but in this context it adds Parisian New Wave style. Bonnie’s back-combed hair styling and kohl eyed make-up adds a finishing touch of Hollywood via Nouvelle Vague chic.

Time and space shift to create this movie fashion look. Both the director Arthur Penn and van Runkle turned to France for inspiration. Just as Penn drew on French New Wave film techniques, van Runkle channelled the attitude of disaffected French youth into her Depression era look. There may be issues with the film taking liberties with the reality of the Bonnie and Clyde story and further mythologizing it but in fashion it’s spot on.

Who is your favourite movie icon? Is Faye Dunaway as Bonnie one of your style heroines too? Get in touch and let us know.

In Part 2 – how to get the look!